The Call Process: A Pastor’s Wife’s Perspective

the-divine-call My husband is a pastor. I met him when he was a Seminary student, so his intention to serve Christ and the Church has always been a part of our life, the center of our life, really.

He is rostered to serve in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. An LCMS pastor’s first parish is assigned to him straight from Seminary. After that he is generally available to receive a Call from any of our member congregations, at which time he must choose between the Call he already serves and the Calling congregation.LCMS Cross

My husband graduated from Seminary in 2009, and from there he served at a church on Long Island in New York. We lived there for about three years until he received a Call from a church in St. Louis County, Missouri. He chose to accept that Call, and we have lived here for a little over four years.

On the evening of August 7, my husband received a phone call from a Calling congregation in southeast North Dakota. Now this Call could not be more different from the parish my husband currently serves.

In Missouri, we live in a large suburb of a good-sized city, the county and the city comprise of about 1.3 million people. Our congregation is large enough that we have three worship service times. We have a thriving school with about 200 students.

In North Dakota, we would be living in a town with about 650 people, 73 miles from the nearest city. It is a dual parish, which means two small churches that are 6 miles apart. And it has no school. The whole town only has one K-12 public school.

These kinds of decisions are very difficult to make. We had been living very comfortably, making plans for the future here, and then given an opportunity that causes us to rethink everything. I really dislike not knowing what to do, where to go, or when it will happen. Some pastors may take the entire weight of these decisions upon their own shoulders, which is understandable being that they are making a choice about their vocation and occupation, but my husband values my opinion. He would never make me do anything or move somewhere that I don’t want to go.

So we have spent a lot of time researching, talking, not sleeping very well, and agonizing over what we are going to do. Thankfully our children are young enough (9, 7, 5, and 3) that they are really flexible and would be happy to live in either place. I’m sure they don’t quite understand what living 5 hours from the nearest family really means, but my husband and I are just grateful that the kids are flexible and that we homeschool, so that we don’t have to factor those things into the decision too much.

My husband spends his time contemplating the two congregations, analyzing where both ministries ohmcardare going, and determining his gifts, passions, strengths, and weaknesses and which place he could serve best. He is a very perceptive, analytical, and thoughtful man. He can and will think of all angles during this deliberation process.

I spend my time thinking about how different these two places are, how I spend my time, how I would spend my time, what we would be leaving, what we would be gaining, etc. One thing that I determined early in our marriage was that I am not opposed to living anywhere, and I would go anywhere with my husband. We have a very close and strong relationship, and as long as we are together we will do anything together.

So, ultimately this decision still ends up primarily on my husband’s shoulders, as I am not the pastor. He is. He is the one that must think about which parish needs him in particular the most. I trust him wholeheartedly to make the right decision for our family. And I will gladly stay or go where my husband decides he needs to be.

 

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Review: Family Vocation: God’s Calling In Marriage, Parenting, And Childhood

Family Vocation: God's Calling In Marriage, Parenting, And Childhood
Family Vocation: God’s Calling In Marriage, Parenting, And Childhood by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a good explanation of vocation in relationships. As a Christian, I have thought of many of the things written in this book before, but it still had good reminders for me in my vocations as wife and mother, and good thoughts for passing on my values to my children. Having a strong family is difficult as a sinner and in the society we inhabit, but through forgiveness and remembering to love and serve our neighbors we can find comfort in the cross of Jesus, that He has redeemed our failings and that He will help us along the way.

View all my reviews

Life in the Everyday

It seems as if there is always something popping up for me to do that gets in the way of what I want to do. A diaper needs changing, a meal needs cooking, laundry needs folding,  

 the kitchen needs cleaning, the garden needs weeding, etc. The list never ends. There is always something getting in the way of what I am doing. 

But what is it that I am doing that is so important? Why do I think that catching up on the news, scrolling through Facebook, or playing a game on my phone are so important? These things certainly provide me with knowledge, information, and entertainment, but are they important?

No. They are not. Folding the laundry for the five other people in my care, cleaning our dishes and cooking our meals are important. It is so easy to get annoyed by these daily tasks. But these daily tasks are the important work.

I need to remind myself the next time that life interrupts me out of my laziness that it is the life that I have been given. It is not mundane or ordinary. It is my life. And life is precious. 

Election, a Comforting Doctrine

I was browsing Facebook this morning, as I typically do over breakfast, and I came across this article posted by the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod which talks about recruiting new church workers, especially among young adults. Talking about recruitment is all fine and good, but recruitment makes the Church sound like a business over which we have control.

Somehow the Church always seems to get caught up in the idea that we have control over who believes and who doesn’t based on our own efforts. Yes, we need to encourage people, young men especially, to go into church work. However, articles like this always bring about the same debates over how we raise our youth, how to retain them, and then ultimately how worship style preferences or lack of female pastors in our synod or the color of our carpets push people outside of the Church.

We put so much stock into our own efforts! What we fail to recognize is that when we start arguing over what we’re doing that is causing people to fall away from the Church or to not believe that we are contradicting what Scripture says about belief/faith. Romans 9:16 says, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” We’ve been studying the book of Romans in Sunday morning Bible study at church for about the past year or so. The whole section of chapters 9-11 are discussing why some believe and why some do not, especially among those that are Jewish by birth. But we could also look at these chapters today in relation to those that are raised in Christian homes but do not believe.
Romans 9:30-33 says,

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
    and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, a work that is completed and not requiring of any effort of our own, is a stumbling block for many people. So many want to be able to contribute to their salvation with their own hands. But this is not what we believe, teach, and confess. Our Lutheran Confessions, which are entirely drawn from the written Word of God, speak on the doctrine of Election, which answers the question, to the best of the writers’ ability, of why some are saved and not others. Just in the Small Catechism (in the explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed) we learn that

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the last day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

If we cannot even bring ourselves to faith, then what makes us think that we can bring others to faith? Yes, maybe our mouth is the medium by which a person hears the Word of God. However, it is the Holy Spirit working in that person’s heart which brings him to confess that Jesus is Lord. Election is meant to be a comforting doctrine, a Word of Truth for easing a troubled conscience, so that even when we sin we know that God still loves and forgives those who have faith in Him. Article XI of the Epitome of the Formula of Concord says,

However, “many are called, but few are chosen” [Matthew 22:14]. This does not mean that God is unwilling to save everybody. But the reason some are not saved is as follows: They do not listen to God’s Word at all, but willfully despise it, plug their ears, and harden their hearts. In this way they block the ordinary way [Luke 16:29-31] for the Holy Spirit so He cannot perform His work in them. Or, when they have heard God’s Word, they make light of it again and ignore it. But their wickedness is responsible for this (that they perish), not God or His election (2 Peter 2:1-3; Luke 11:49-52; Hebrews 12:25-26).

Unbelievers do not believe because they do not want to, not because believers didn’t do enough to accommodate them.

The Church should do the work that God has given us to do. We are to serve our neighbor in our various vocations (e.g. baker, parent, truck-driver, hairdresser, etc.) and in doing so speak His Word, as that is what a Christian does. And we should take comfort knowing that even in our failures God’s will is done. His Elect will be saved.

Happy Birthday, Grandma

So, this is a day late, but happy birthday to this blog’s namesake! Yesterday was my grandma’s 74th birthday.

When I was a kid we often would eat lunch with Grandma at her house on Mondays after our homeschool choir and band practice. We would typically eat grilled cheese, although Grandma called it cheese toast. Sometimes we would eat tomato soup, also.

Snacks at Grandma’s house would consist of cream cheese on a popsicle stick, an ice cream cone with either vanilla or sherbet ice cream, Fig Newtons, or marshmallows. We would have tea parties with the toy tea set, or play grocery store with the toy cash register and the boxes and containers that Grandma would save. We would listen to her play the piano and would sometimes play for her. We would watch Disney sing-alongs or the animal videos that she had on her TV.

My Grandma is a thoughtful, kind, and gentle woman. I am so thankful to be a part of her family and to know her.

Happy birthday, Grandma! I love you.

Birthday Tribute

Today is my grandpa’s 74th birthday. He is a hard working, wise, Christian man. He grew up with a big family in a tiny home. He became an engineer and lived very frugally. He was a good father and raised all four of his children to be hard working, God fearing people.

My mom, her sisters, and her brother all married well and have raised/are raising hard working, God fearing children. My grandparents have fifteen grandchildren. Three of us are married, so they have nine great-grandchildren with one on the way. It has been a joy having such young grandparents because my children will have the opportunity to know their great-grandparents on my mother’s side fairly well, provided God continues to bless them with good health.

My grandfather’s legacy is not just in hard work, faith in Jesus, and good parenting. My grandfather has been an exemplary representation of a husband to his wife, my grandmother, this blog’s namesake.

My grandparents have been married for 54 years. Their life together has not been easy. It has been tainted with loss and illness, but my grandfather is a shining example of faithfulness, love, and service to his wife.

He can be proud of the family and life that he and my grandma have built with the help of The Lord.

Happy birthday, Grandpa! Thank you for being the man that you are. I love you.

Love and Marriage

People today have a very impractical view of marriage. Marriage is considered a relationship to make one’s life fulfilling and complete. Making and raising a family is not always the first concern, and of course not everyone is blessed with children, either. People fall in love, so they get married. The relationship gets difficult and people fall out of love, so they get divorced. People think they need to find themselves or complete a checklist of life goals before they can “settle down” with a “ball and chain.”

Don’t get me wrong. We should be very discerning in whom we marry. We should be sure to find someone with a similar worldview, similar faith, and similar beliefs. Those are the most important things. But do we need to be head over heels in love to get married? No, for that is making marriage into something that it is not.

Someone that shares your faith, goes to church with you, and wants to raise your children in the same faith is most important. On top of that, we should look for someone with good character, someone that is responsible and serving, someone that we like and will generally be happy to be around everyday. These are important things.

Obviously, physical attraction is a good thing, but people gain weight, lose their hair, endure accidents and illnesses that alter their bodies, and physical attraction will not sustain a marriage. The most important thing is to be attracted to the person as a whole, to their character and personality. However, even those things may change, so the reality is that people who would be married need to be committed to serving each other, growing together, and enduring together through the good and bad things in life that come their way, because that is what love really is.

If we think that love is having good feelings about someone, and that when the person is unworthy of those feelings of love that we should walk away, then we really have no understanding of love at all. We have done nothing to make us worthy of God’s love. We are completely undeserving of His forgiveness, but as Romans 5:8 says, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God had every right to walk away from us and forsake us, but He chose to love us instead.

Real love involves sacrifice, forgiveness, and sometimes great effort from sinners to do the right thing. Real love is dying to your sinful instincts that tell you to take offense and revenge, and to forgive and serve instead. Real love endures the heartaches of illness and loss and remains to serve the other, even when one is giving but not receiving much.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Will we love perfectly? Of course not. That is why we continually repent and forgive each other. And that is what makes a marriage last.